10 Best VPN Services

We’ve researched and stress-tested all the top VPNs. Here are the 10 best picks for every kind of user.

Best overall
Nord VPN
NordVPN
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
$12.99
/mo
  • pro
    6,000+ servers in 61 countries
  • pro
    Best security with user-friendly interface
  • pro
    30-day free trial
Best for high speeds
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Price:
$12.95
/mo
  • pro
    3,000+ servers in 105 countries
  • pro
    Amazing speed performance with popular apps
  • pro
    30-day money-back guarantee
Best value VPN
Surfshark
Surfshark
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
$10.99
/mo
  • pro
    3,000+ servers in 100 countries
  • pro
    Very low price and unlimited simultaneous connections
  • pro
    30-day free trial
Best for gaming
Cyberghost
CyberGhost
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
Price:
$12.99
/mo
  • pro
    11,500+ servers in 100 countries
  • pro
    Lowest ping for competitive gaming
  • pro
    45-day money-back guarantee
Best free VPN
ProtonVPN
Proton VPN
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
Price:
$9.99
/mo
  • pro
    3,154 in 70 countries
  • pro
    Very secure and decent free plan
  • pro
    30-day money-back guarantee
Easton Smith
Feb 02, 2024
bullet9 min read

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Our reviewers have spent countless hours researching and stress testing the top VPN services. We found that NordVPN is the best VPN on the market for most people, period. It offers the highest level of security, an easy-to-use interface, and a fair price.

ExpressVPN is a close second, offering unparalleled speeds and outstanding security features. Other users may find unique benefits from VPN services like Surfshark, CyberGhost, Proton VPN, and the other providers on this list.

We’ll go over everything you need to know in this article, including prices, security protocols, encryption standards, and extra features. You can find the perfect VPN here, whether you’re a serious streamer, an anonymous hacker, or just a casual internet user.

Best VPN services comparison
Service
Standard monthly price
Servers and countries
Max number of devices
Details
NordVPN$12.99/mo.6,000+ servers in 61 countries6
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.3,000+ servers in 105 countries 5
Surfshark$10.99/mo. 3,000+ servers in 100 countries Unlimited
CyberGhost$12.99/mo.11,500+ servers in 100 countries 7
Proton VPN$9.99/mo.3,154 in 70 countries10
Hotspot Shield$12.99/mo. 3,200 servers in 80 countries10
TunnelBear$9.99/mo.5,000+ servers in 47 countriesUnlimited
Private Internet Access$11.99/mo.Thousands of servers in 91 countriesUnlimited
Mullvad$5.42/mo. 700+ servers in 40 countries5
PrivateVPN$9.90/mo.200+ servers in 63 countries 10

Prices effective as of 01/31/24. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Want a free VPN?
bullet

If you’re still on the fence about signing up for a VPN, be sure to check out the free trials and free plans that we feature here. That way, you can get a good idea of what VPN will work for you before you have to commit to a monthly payment.

How to choose the best VPN for you

Here are the most important features to consider when choosing a service

All VPNs have one thing in common: They create an online connection between your device and a secure server, masking your online activity from everyone. But beyond that basic function, there are many different features that set VPNs apart from each other.

Different VPN features lend themselves to different activities. We’ll go over the most important ones to think about when considering which service to buy, starting with the most obvious one.

  • Price: Most VPNs are relatively cheap. There’s no reason to spend more than a few dollars a month on a VPN service, unless you’re using it for something very specific and important. Always look for free trial deals and up front payment for additional savings.
  • Number of servers/countries: VPNs with more server locations give you more options for connection. All VPNs will slow your internet a little bit. But you can minimize that slowdown by choosing a VPN with a lot of servers.
  • Devices: Not all VPNs will work on all devices. Make sure that the VPN you choose works on your phone, computer, Smart TV, and other devices. Don’t forget to check compatibility with your browsers, ad-blockers, and anti-virus software.
  • Simultaneous connections: Like streaming services, VPNs usually limit the number of devices that can be signed into a single account. If you want to leave your VPN on all the time on several devices, make sure you have enough simultaneous connections in your VPN plan.
  • 24/7 Live support: If you’re using a VPN, then security and privacy are probably pretty important to you all the time. So you want to make sure your VPN service has live support even at 3 a.m.
  • No-logs policies: Be sure that you get a VPN with a no logs policy, which means that it won’t keep any record of your use. Even though it is legal to use a VPN in the United States, it’s nice to know that you won’t be tracked for doing so.
  • Security protocols: There are several common security protocols that VPNs use. The best are called OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and WireGuard VPN. Try to avoid older protocols like PPTP and IKEv2.
  • DNS leak protection: Without leak protection, there’s a chance that your DNS queries can be leaked, meaning your internet service provider may be able to see your online activity even with your VPN turned on.
  • AES-256 encryption: Most high-end VPNs use AES-256 encryption, which is the gold standard. Don’t settle for anything less.
  • Split tunneling: This feature allows you to choose which apps and websites use your VPN and which don’t. It’s great for those who want to use a VPN for browsing online and gaming, but don’t want to use it for streaming Hulu.
  • Dynamic IP address: With a dynamic IP address, your IP address is always changing, making it even harder to hack or track.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about our favorite VPN services. We’ll start with the most universally recognized VPN, which we think is best for most users.

NordVPN: Best overall VPN for most users

The most popular VPN on the market is also the most powerful
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
bullet 6,000+ servers in 61 countries
bullet Fair pricing
bullet Easy-to-use interface
Starting at
$3.29/mo. for 2-yr plan

If you’re looking for a solid all around VPN that scores high on every important feature, then NordVPN is the way to go. It uses the highest level of encryption, has a no logs policy, thousands of servers in dozens of countries, and works with nearly every kind of device, including iPhones and Android phones.

But what makes Nord truly great for casual customers is its user-friendly interface. It’s the perfect entry-level VPN for those who aren’t necessarily computer wizards but still take their security and privacy seriously.

FeatureNordVPN
Price$12.99–$15.99/mo. or $3.99–$6.99/mo. when you pay for 2 years up front
Servers6,000+
Countries61
Simultaneous connections6
Logs policyNo logs
Netflix supportYes
Torrenting supportYes
Ad blockerYes
EncryptionAES-256
VPN protocolIKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN
Customer support24/7 live chat
Free trial30-day free trial
Learn more

There are three tiers of NordVPN service: Standard, Plus, and Ultimate. All three of these plans get you the most important stuff, like direct and anonymized access to thousands of servers and a tracker/ad-blocker.

If you’re willing to pay for the higher tiers of service, then the list of features just grows. It includes data breach monitoring, kill-switch protection, a password manager, malware protection, file encryption, and 1TB of cloud storage.

While Nord is great for casual users, it’s also the gold standard for more serious programmers, hackers, and security experts. It uses diskless RAM servers, which means that they store no data at all. Also, Nord is working on switching everything to colocated servers that are fully owned by the company, meaning there’s no third-parties involved anywhere in the process.

ExpressVPN: Best for high speeds

You can get the highest level of security without sacrificing your internet speed
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
bullet Over 3,000 servers in 105 countries
bullet Simple interface
bullet Video guides for users
Starting at
$8.32/mo. For 1-yr. plan

ExpressVPN and NordVPN are often switching placement at the top of our list of the best VPNs. They both have an incredible commitment to security and are constantly innovating to make their services faster and easier to use.

Right now, we are particularly impressed with Express VPN’s speeds. Maybe it’s the fact that it has servers in nearly twice as many countries as Nord, or maybe it’s the company’s proprietary “Lightway” protocol, but either way, it’s our top pick for a VPN that doesn't slow your internet speeds.

FeatureExpressVPN
Price$12.95/mo. or $8.32/mo. when you pay for a year up front
Servers3,000+
Countries105
Simultaneous connections5
Logs policyNo logs
Netflix supportYes
Torrenting supportYes
Ad blockerYes
EncryptionAES-256
VPN protocolLightway (proprietary ExpressVPN protocol that’s very trusted)
Customer support24/7 live chat
Free trial30-day money-back guarantee
Learn more

There’s plenty to love about ExpressVPN. It offers all of the key features that we look for in a top-shelf VPN, including a robust no-logs policy, lots of servers, an ad-blocker, and a simple, user-friendly interface.

ExpressVPN is especially good for new VPN users because it has a whole host of explainer videos that can help you use its basic and advanced features.

In terms of price, Express VPN is similar to Nord if you pay month-to-month. But if you’re willing to pay for a couple of years up front, Nord’s prices do start to look a little better. That said, ExpressVPN keeps its pricing simpler by offering just a single plan that comes with all of the bells and whistles (rather than having three separate options, like Nord).

ExpressVPN will work with almost every kind of device, but you will be limited to five simultaneous log-ins, which is one less than Nord.

Surfshark: Best value VPN

Get unlimited simultaneous connections at a very low price
4 out of 5 stars
4
bullet Over 3,000 servers in 100 countries
bullet Unlimited simultaneous connections
bullet Very affordable 2-yr. price
Starting at
$2.49/mo. for 2-yr. plan

If you’re willing to pay for two years up front, then you can get more bang for your buck with Surfshark than any other VPN service. At just $2.49 a month, Surfshark’s two-year price is on par with budget VPNs, while its quality still remains in the big leagues.

Not only does Surfshark have thousands of servers and top-tier features, like an ad-blocker, but it also allows you to have unlimited simultaneous connections. That makes it ideal for folks with tons of devices in their household.

FeatureSurfshark
Price$10.99–$21.99/mo. or $2.49–$4.97/mo. when you pay for two years up front
Servers3,200+
Countries100
Simultaneous connectionsUnlimited
Logs policyNo logs
Netflix supportYes
Torrenting supportYes
Ad blockerYes
EncryptionAES-256
VPN protocolWireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 VPN
Customer support24/7 live chat
Free trial30-day free trial
Learn more

Surfshark has nearly every security feature we could want from a VPN, including AES-256 encryption, a strong no logs policy, and 24/7 live chat in case something goes wrong with your connection.

Where the service falls a little bit short is in the interface. While you can use many advanced features, like split tunneling, they aren’t as easy to set up as we would like. Whereas ExpressVPN and NordVPN feel highly intuitive and make it easy for VPN-newcomers to use, Surfshark feels a bit clunkier.

For example, if you want to manually connect to a specific server, you can’t just click a button. You have to use a whole different sign in method, know the hostname of the server, and input the server credentials. It’s a whole process.

CyberGhost: Best VPN for gaming

Stay secure and private without looking like a n00b in your online game
3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9
bullet 11,500+ servers in 100 countries
bullet Low ping rating
bullet Great 2-yr. price
Starting at
$2.19/mo. for 2-yr. plan

Some of the biggest issues that VPN users face is slow internet speeds and high ping. This can be a huge pain for online gamers who want to stay competitive at the highest levels. Luckily, there’s CyberGhost.

CyberGhost takes the crown as the best VPN for gamers. With over 10,000 servers, there are many options for those who want to manually search for the best connection. In our hands-on testing, it was the best service for keeping ping to a minimum. Plus, if you sign up for two years, you can get an incredibly low monthly price.

FeatureCyberGhost
Price$12.99/mo.
$41.94/6 mos.
$56.94/2 yrs.
Servers11,500+
Countries100
Simultaneous connections7
Logs policyNo logs
Netflix supportYes
Torrenting supportYes
Ad blockerYes
EncryptionAES-256
VPN protocolOpenVPN, L2TP/ IPSec, IKEv2/ IPSec, and PPTP
Customer support24/7 live chat
Free trial24-hour free trial; 45-day money-back guarantee
Learn more

While CyberGhost is the standout pick for gamers, it might not be the best option for everyone else. Our reviewers have experienced some big issues with streaming, which slowed buffering speeds and quality significantly.

Proton VPN: Best free VPN

Get a powerful, open-source VPN service for free with Proton
4 out of 5 stars
4
bullet 3,154 in 70 countries
bullet Totally free version available
bullet Secure open-source service
Starting at
$9.99

We’ve all gotten accustomed to getting certain internet services for free, like email, search, and even streaming. Now, there’s a halfway decent VPN that doesn’t cost a dime.

Proton is a project that was started in 2014 by a group of European scientists who “shared a vision of an internet that puts people first and defends freedom.” Now, it offers multiple open-source services that give users end-to-end encryption, including Proton Mail, Proton Calendar, and Proton VPN.

There’s a lot to like about Proton’s mission and its services. The VPN can easily go toe-to-toe with the others on this list. But what really sets it apart is that Proton offers a truly free version of its VPN.

While the Proton VPN Free plan isn’t as robust as the company’s paid plans, it will give you access to the most essential functions, including servers in five different countries: Netherlands, Japan, Romania, Poland and the United States. You can only connect one device at a time, but you will have some premium features, like an automatic kill switch. 

FeatureProtonVPN
Price$0.00–$9.99/mo. or $4.99/mo. when you pay for 2 years up front
Servers3,154
Countries70
Simultaneous connections10 (with Plus plan)
Logs policyNo logs
Netflix supportYes (but not with free version)
Torrenting supportYes (but not with free version)
Ad blockerYes (but not with free version)
EncryptionAES-256 or ChaCha20
VPN protocolWireGuard, OpenVPN,and IKEv2
Customer support24/7 live chat
Free trialFree version; 30-day money-back guarantee for Plus plan
Learn more

Besides the restrictions on servers and simultaneous connections, Proton VPN’s free plan has other limitations. There’s no ad-blocker. You won’t be able to stream on Netflix or other services. You won’t have torrenting support.

But if you just want a VPN to anonymize your browsing, then this is the way to go. Plus, you can always decide to upgrade to a paid plan if you decide you want more.

Other great VPNs to consider

Find the perfect VPN to meet your streaming, torrenting, and privacy needs

Those are the top five VPNs that we’d recommend for most users. But hey, why don’t we throw in another five honorable mentions for those who want more choices? Let’s start with Hotspot Shield, which is a great option for those who want to binge Netflix in many different regions.

Hotspot Shield: Best for Netflix

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
bullet 3,200 servers in 80 countries
bullet Fast download speeds with major streaming services
Starting at
$7.99
/mo

We are not advocating doing anything that might violate a service’s terms of use. But if, hypothetically, someone wanted to use a VPN to stream shows and movies that are only available in certain regions, that person might want to try Hotspot Shield.

TunnelBear: Best free ad blocker

3 out of 5 stars
3
bullet 5,000+ servers in over 47 countries
bullet Free ad-blocker
Starting at
$3.33/mo. with 3-yr. plan

TunnelBear isn’t necessarily outstanding when you compare it to other top VPNs. It has a decent number of servers, a good security policy, and a fair number of features, but it’s nothing to write home about.

However, this VPN does offer a free ad-blocker that you can use as an extension on Google Chrome, which will get rid of pesky ads and stop third-parties from tracking your internet activity.

Private Internet Access: Best for torrenting

3 out of 5 stars
3
bullet Thousands of servers in 91 countries
bullet Great torrenting performance
bullet Tons of additional web browsing features
Starting at
$2.03/mo. with 3-yr. plan

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a quality VPN with thousands of servers in 91 countries. It’s stuffed full of cool extra features for online browsing, like adware and malware blockers and a powerful firewall that warns you when your data is compromised.

Our reviewers have also found that it performs very highly with torrenting software, making it ideal for those who are transferring big files.

Mullvad: Best for total anonymity

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
bullet 700+ servers in 40 countries
bullet Truly anonymous sign up and web browsing
Starting at
$5.41
/mo

If you’re using a VPN, you probably care about privacy. But there’s privacy and then there’s privacy. If you’re interested in getting truly anonymous (like off-the-grid, disappearing, Jason Bourne-style anonymous), then Mullvad is your best bet.

This VPN service lets you sign up without giving any identifying information. Just generate a sign up code from your browser, pay in any number of untraceable ways (crypto or even cash), and then get to browsing. Once you’re online, you’ll be protected by a VPN with the highest levels of encryption that includes regular security audits.

PrivateVPN: Best for simplicity

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
bullet 200+ servers in 63 countries
bullet Easy-to-use interface that works well on many devices
Starting at
$2.00/mo. with 3-yr. plan

With a sleek and simple user interface, PrivateVPN (not to be confused with Private Internet Access VPN) is a good starter VPN with a low cost of entry. It supposedly works very well on public Wi-Fi hotspots and is easy to use on iPhone and Android devices, making it ideal for those who are on the go.

Recap: Best VPN services 2024

That’s all for our VPN deep dive. Hopefully you’ve picked out the perfect service for your lifestyle. Here’s a quick recap to help you make your final decision.

  • NordVPN: Nord sets the standard for security, usability, and premium features. If you’re just looking for the best overall VPN, this is the way to go.
  • ExpressVPN: Those who want to prioritize speed, while still getting stellar security features, should check out ExpressVPN.
  • Surfshark: You can get a top-shelf VPN service for under $3 a month with Surfshark. Plus, it will give you unlimited simultaneous connections.
  • CyberGhost: Gamers who want to stay secure and private without losing too much ping should look at CyberGhost.
  • Proton VPN: Proton operates a super-secure and open-source VPN that can go take on the best. Plus, you can get a totally free version that’s great for basic web browsing on a single device.
  • Other great VPNs to check out: Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear, Private Internet Access, Mullvad, and PrivateVPN

Methodology

Our reviewers have stress-tested all of the most popular VPNs on the market, checking for speed loss, ping spikes, security flaws, and other vulnerabilities. We’ve taken these results and done even more research into these companies' prices and policies. From there, we narrowed it down to the ten top-performing services in various categories.

We made our final recommendations based on different use cases and price points. Our goal is always to help our readers find a service that fits their particular lifestyle.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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